Not to be confused with the 2016 David Ayer film 'Suicide Squad', this one has 'Guardians of the Galaxy' director James Gunn behind the wheel. As a fan of those 'Guardians' movies, when I heard about Gunn taking the helm of this project, I got pretty excited and it has been on my "must-see" list since the news first emerged. Although there was controversy surrounding his name, considering what I knew he could do with an ensemble cast and his directorial style, he was just perfect for the job.
The film opens, hitting the ground running as intelligence officer, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) deploys two "Suicide Squad" teams (or Task Force X teams) to the South American island of Corto Maltese after its government is brought down by anti-American radicals. Team One is led by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and further consists of Savant (Michael Rooker), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion), Javelin (Flula Borg), Mongal (Mayling Ng), Weasel (Sean Gunn), and of course the great Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). We learn the basics really quick for those who may not have bothered with the first film, and it's simple - in exchange for completing the tasks set by Waller, these criminals get ten years off their prison sentence.
Meanwhile, the second team, who has the same deal, approaches the island. Led by Bloodsport (Idriz Elba), this team further consists of Peacemaker (John Cena), King Shark (Sylvester Stallone/Steve Agee), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior). The team's collective purpose for this mission is to locate a man known as the Thinker (Peter Capaldi), a metahuman who heads a top secret experiment potentially endangering all of humanity known as "Project Starfish". The teams are to bring down the Nazi-era laboratory Jötunheim, which holds said project. The main focus here is on the second team, as plot-wise, Bloodsport is in this to protect his daughter from jailtime. He's the lead here while Harley plays everyone's favourite DC anti-hero.
I am very happy to report that James Gunn's directorial style was what I wanted to see and more. Not only does he totally succeed in delivering a lot of that humour we know him for with the 'Guardians' films, but he makes damn sure he delivers us a good R-rated superhero (or anti-hero) movie complete with violence, language, and even a bit of nudity. One could probably consider this DC's answer to the 'Deadpool' movies. There are plenty of laughs, and a lot of the laughs have to do with how over the top things can get. I honestly had a smile on my face through this whole thing, as it somewhat represents a release of all that pent of rage we've all been feeling under the shadow of Covid 19. One could consider this a pretty great outlet for the times.
With an ensemble cast like this, one probably gets to wondering how all these names are handled. This certainly sounds like it has the potential to be another 'X-3' with too many characters in so little time. I have to say that Gunn handles things very well. I had to appreciate that he managed to make Harley more of a background character, but she still manages to steal the show here just doing what she does. There is a moment that might make Harley fans wince and cringe a bit, but don't worry, she doesn't exactly disappoint. Harley fans should get just as much a kick out of her here as they did with the last two films featuring her.
One big question people have is "Is this a sequel?" Well, it's like this. Producer Peter Safran has described this as a total reboot, despite the fact that several cast members return as their respective characters. It's further confusing to try to figure out where 'Birds of Prey' lands in all of this too. Personally speaking, I think it's all open to interpretation. DC seems to have developed a bit of a talent over the past while in that they are making movies that could stand on their own instead of necessarliy being part of the DC Universe we see from 'Justice League'. Unlike the 'Avengers' films, there's not a whole lot of important connective material. So this very well could be a sequel, but really, it's meant to stand on its own. I think it plays more on the potential the original film had with same cast members. Again, look at 'Deadpool'. Ryan Reynolds was always perfect for the role, but 'Wolverine' really screwed it up.
As far as 2021 movies go, as well as DC titles, this is easily one of my favourites. I didn't come out of this quite as mind-blown as I expected, but I really enjoyed it. Gunn did a great job here, providing some new faces, tackling a huge cast, making things stylistic, and absolutely not holding back on the R-rated violence we fans not only want but somewhat expect from a movie like this. It's another comic book title that deserves an R-rating in order to do it justice. I also have to admire that he just plain went for it. I mean, Project Starfish is really crazy and even kind of stupid when you think about it, but somehow he made it work really well here. What more can I say? I am impressed, and would love to see Gunn take on more of these (if there are going to be any more).